Rob Cohen


Director, Producer

About

Birth Place
Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, USA
Born
March 12, 1949

Biography

This busy producer-director of film and TV became one of Hollywood's "baby moguls" of the 1970s. At age 24, Cohen headed up the motion picture producing arm of Motown Records, overseeing some notable and/or popular black-oriented films: "Mahogany" (1975), "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings" (1976), "Scott Joplin: King of Ragtime" (1977), "Thank God It's Friday" and Sidne...

Biography

This busy producer-director of film and TV became one of Hollywood's "baby moguls" of the 1970s. At age 24, Cohen headed up the motion picture producing arm of Motown Records, overseeing some notable and/or popular black-oriented films: "Mahogany" (1975), "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings" (1976), "Scott Joplin: King of Ragtime" (1977), "Thank God It's Friday" and Sidney Lumet's notorious "The Wiz" (both 1978). At age 28, he formed his own production company and set to work on his directorial debut, "A Small Circle of Friends" (1980), a nostalgic comedy set at Harvard (Cohen's alma mater) in the 60s, starring Brad Davis and Karen Allen and more than inspired by Francois Truffaut's superior "Jules et Jim" (1962). Cohen followed with "Scandalous" (1984), a farce starring Robert Hays and John Gielgud. He also executive produced the high-minded remake of "The Razor's Edge" (1984), starring a miscast Bill Murray, and produced the teen drama "The Legend of Billy Jean" (1985).

By 1985, Cohen had become a significant director of TV commercials and programs, with credits including "Miami Vice," "A Year in the Life" and "thirtysomething." He juggled these tasks with ongoing feature production as the president and, later, vice chairman and partner of Keith Barish Productions. In this capacity, he produced or executive produced such diverse fare as Paul Schrader's "Light of Day" , with Michael J Fox and Gena Rowlands, the sci-fi thriller "The Running Man," the sober and atmospheric "Ironweed" (all 1987), and Wes Craven's creepy tale of voodoo, "The Serpent and the Rainbow" (1988).

In October 1988, Cohen and longtime friend John Badham merged their two separate deals with MCA to form The Badham/Cohen Group. Their first two ventures were slickly produced star packages, "Bird on a Wire" (1990), with Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, and "The Hard Way" (1991), with James Woods and Michael J Fox. Cohen continued to work in 90s TV, racking up credits on "Eddie Dodd," "The Antagonists" and "The Wonder Years." He returned to feature directing with the fanciful biopic "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" (1993), a surprise critical and commercial hit (which Cohen co-wrote). Featuring an inspirational central performance by the half-Hawaiian Jason Scott Lee, the film confounded easy categorization. Nearly equal parts old-fashioned biography, touching romance, sensitive problem pic (dealing with anti-Asian prejudice and the strains of interracial romance) and rousing chopsocky adventure, the film delighted even those with no interest in martial arts.

Cohen returned to the small screen in a producing capacity, serving as executive producer, creator, screenwriter and--fleetingly--performer on a series of "Vanishing Son" TV-movies as part of the syndicated "Action Pack" series in 1994. The original, its three sequels and a 1995 syndicated spin-off series--a routinely inferior modern-day fusion of "Kung Fu," "The Incredible Hulk" and "The Fugitive"--well displayed Cohen's interest in issues confronting Asian immigrants in the US. "Vanishing Son" began in mainland China where two brothers caught up in the turmoil of the Tiananman Square demonstrations are forced to flee for the safety of the US. The elder, Jian-Wa (Russell Wong), is torn between a career as a concert violinist and further developing his already formidable martial arts skills. The younger, Wago (Chi Muoi Lo), mesmerized by glitz and power, becomes a gangster. Like "Dragon," the "Vanishing Son" movies were sometimes corny yet satisfying offerings of romance, social commentary and impressive fighting sequences.

After the success of his Bruce Lee biopic, Cohen shifted gears considerably to helm "Dragonheart" (1996), a big-budget, special effects-driven period fantasy. Dennis Quaid played an itinerant dragonslayer who teams with Draco (memorably voiced by Sean Connery), the last dragon on Earth, to bring down a tyrannical king (David Thewlis). Reviews were wildly mixed and business was disappointing. Nonetheless, Cohen remained on the A-list, directing Sylvester Stallone in the high-profile disaster thriller "Daylight" (1996). Cohen directed a few television projects including the television series, "The Guardian" (1997) and the HBO drama, "The Rat Pack" (1998). He then returned back to the big screen to direct two summer blockbusters, "The Fast And The Furious" (2001) and "xXx" (2002) both servicable but unambitious vehicles starring then-rising action star Vin Diesel. Dumbing things down even further, Cohen's next effort was "Stealth" (2005), a stupefyingly lowbrow cross between "Top Gun" and "2001" about a troika of fighter pilots (Jamie Foxx, Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel) of a new generation stealth plane.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The Hurricane Heist (2018)
Director
Marco Polo (2016)
Director
The Boy Next Door (2015)
Director
Alex Cross (2012)
Director
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Director
Stealth (2005)
Director
XXX (2002)
Director
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Director
The Skulls (2000)
Director
The Rat Pack (1998)
Director
Daylight (1996)
Director
Dragonheart (1996)
Director
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
Director
Scandalous (1984)
Director
A Small Circle Of Friends (1980)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
Dill Scallion (1999)
Dear Saint Anthony (1998)
Deadly Lessons (1995)
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
Dogfight (1991)
The Canadian Conspiracy (1986)

Cinematography (Feature Film)

L' Articolo 2 (1993)
Director Of Photography

Writer (Feature Film)

Ritual (2005)
Screenplay (Rewrite)
The Last Ride (2004)
Story By
Losing Touch (2001)
Screenwriter
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
Screenplay
Elise (1985)
Screenwriter
Scandalous (1984)
Screenplay
Scandalous (1984)
From Story

Producer (Feature Film)

The Hurricane Heist (2018)
Producer
xXx: State of the Union (2005)
Executive Producer
The Last Ride (2004)
Executive Producer
Knight Rider 2010 (1994)
Executive Producer
Relentless: Mind of a Killer (1993)
Executive Producer
The Hard Way (1991)
Producer
Bird On A Wire (1990)
Producer
Disorganized Crime (1989)
Executive Producer
The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)
Executive Producer
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Executive Producer
Ironweed (1987)
Executive Producer
The Running Man (1987)
Executive Producer
The Monster Squad (1987)
Executive Producer
Light Of Day (1987)
Producer
The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
Producer
The Razor's Edge (1984)
Executive Producer
Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill (1979)
Executive Producer
Almost Summer (1978)
Producer
Thank God It's Friday (1978)
Producer
The Wiz (1978)
Producer
Scott Joplin (1977)
Executive Producer
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars And Motor Kings (1976)
Producer
Mahogany (1975)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

The Boy Next Door (2015)
Song
Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Song
The Rat Pack (1998)
Music Producer
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
Theme Lyrics

Sound (Feature Film)

Marciano (1979)
Rerecording

Film Production - Unit (Feature Film)

The Hard Way (1991)
Unit Director
Bird On A Wire (1990)
Unit Director
The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)
Unit Director

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

Session 9 (2001)
Special Thanks To
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Special Thanks To

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Hurricane Heist (2018)
Screenplay (Uncredited)
The Hurricane Heist (2018)
Other
Stealth (2005)
Other
Stealth (2005)
Screenplay (Uncredited)

Director (Special)

McEnroe Unleashed (1999)
Director

Cast (Special)

The Fast and the Furious Movie Special (2001)

Writer (Special)

McEnroe Unleashed (1999)
Writer

Special Thanks (Special)

McEnroe Unleashed (1999)
Writer

Misc. Crew (Special)

1997 MTV Movie Awards (1997)
Consultant

Director (TV Mini-Series)

Vanishing Son II (1994)
Creator
Vanishing Son III (1994)
Creator
Vanishing Son IV (1994)
Creator

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Vanishing Son IV (1994)
Vanishing Son I (1994)

Writer (TV Mini-Series)

Vanishing Son I (1994)
Screenplay

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

Vanishing Son IV (1994)
Executive Producer
Vanishing Son II (1994)
Executive Producer
Vanishing Son III (1994)
Executive Producer
Vanishing Son I (1994)
Executive Producer

Life Events

1969

While a college sophomore, assisted director Daniel Petrie on NBC movie "Silent Night, Lonely Night"

1973

Became executive vice president of the motion picture divsion of Motown Records at age 24

1975

First film as producer, "Mahogany" (Motown)

1978

Left Motown to form his own production company

1980

Feature film directing debut, "A Small Circle of Friends"

1984

First film as screenwriter, "Scandalous"

1985

Appointed president of Keith Barish Productions

1985

Began directing regularly for episodic TV

1990

First film released by The Badham/Cohen Group, "Bird on a Wire"

1993

Breakthrough directorial project, "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story"

1998

Directed the HBO movie "The Rat Pack"

2000

Helmed the poorly received thriller "The Skulls"

2001

Enjoyed a box-office hit as director of "The Fast and the Furious," starring Vin Diesel

2002

Reunited with Diesel for the spy thriller "XXX"

2005

Executive produced "XXX: State of the Union"

2005

Helmed the thriller "Stealth," starring Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel

2008

Helmed third film in The Mummy franchise "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor"

2012

Helmed crime thriller "Alex Cross," based on the novel <i>Cross</i> by James Patterson

Videos

Movie Clip

Mahogany (1975) - A Really Good Obsession Egotistical fashion photographer Sean (Anthony Perkins), before he splits for Rome, is driving everyone nuts, including assistant Tracy (Diana Ross), at an artsy urban Chicago shoot, her boyfriend, neighborhood activist Brian (Billy Dee Williams) not impressed, in Mahogany, 1975.
Mahogany (1975) - Do You Know Where You're Going To The first iteration of the ubiquitous, Oscar-nominated theme song by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin, sung by leading lady Diana Ross, who plays Tracy, flashing back with credits from the opening scene, her success in Rome, to earlier days as a fashion student in Chicago, in Mahogany, 1975.
Mahogany (1975) - Just Because You're Brown Chicago, South Side neighborhood activist Brian (Billy Dee Williams), who teased fashion student Tracy (Diana Ross) on his megaphone the first time they met, is the butt of the joke this time, in Mahogany, 1975, the credited director Motown founder Berry Gordy, who fired Tony Richardson.
Mahogany (1975) - Your Other Right Shoulder Nina Foch as department store boss Miss Evans and Anthony Perkins photographer Sean elevate the already-decent acting standard, as fashion student Tracy (Diana Ross) shows up late for work, then gets recruited, in Mahogany, Motown boss Berry Gordy the credited director.
Terminal Island (1973) - Break Her In Ena Hartman is Carmen, political radical and the new convicted murderer on the prison island, discovering the settlement where Bobby (Sean Kenney) and Monk (Roger E. Moseley) hold sway, Barbara Leigh, Marta Kristen, Phyllis Davis among the enslaved females, in Terminal Island, 1973.
Sweet Jesus, Preacherman - Reverend Lee Hit-man Holmes (Roger E. Mosley, from "Magnum P.I.), now posing as "Reverend Lee," builds up remarkable momentum in his new church, mostly in one long take, in Sweet Jesus, Preacherman, 1973.
Sweet Jesus, Preacherman - Open, Three Friends Hit man Holmes (Roger E. Mosley) gets instructions and takes out three targets without using any conventional weapons as the credits roll in Sweet Jesus, Preacherman, 1973.
Darktown Strutters - Let's Party! Syreena (Trina Parks) is finishing winning her race against Mellow (Roger E. Mosley) when she encounters the Klan in a panel truck, which doesn't prevent all from adjourning to party, in Darktown Strutters, 1975.
Darktown Strutters - Open, Cinderella Plenty outrageous gag with the title-referenced biker gang leads into the opening credits from Darktown Strutters, 1975, the social-commentary action-comedy starring Trina Parks and Roger E. Mosley, from a script by George Armitage.
Darktown Strutters - Baby Brother Syreena (Trina Parks) drops in on her brother Flash (Gene Simms) who's gone 'round the bend with Kung Fu, and they consult about their missing mother, in Darktown Strutters, 1975, from a screenplay by George Armitage.
Darktown Strutters - Sky Hog The girl-biker gang that lends its name to the movie (Trina Parks, Edna Richardson, Bettye Sweet, Shirley Washington) meets Mellow (Roger E. Mosley) and his posse at the comical BBQ joint, in Darktown Strutters, 1975.

Bibliography